no love lost

  illustration for Children in the Wood: or, The Norfolk Gentleman’s last Will and Testament (1818)     The phrase there’s no, or little, or not much, love lost between means there is mutual dislike between. This expression is ambiguous, and has also been used to mean there is mutual affection between. Both senses are found in Clarissa; or, The history of a young […]

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flirt

  photograph: Famille Michaud, beekeepers since 1920     MAIN MEANINGS   – verb: to behave as though sexually attracted to someone, but playfully rather than with serious intentions – noun: a person who acts flirtatiously   ORIGIN   The verb flirt is probably onomatopoeic, the phonetic elements /fl-/ and /-əːt/ both suggesting sudden movement. […]

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a pretty kettle of fish

  Oxford English Dictionary (1st edition – 1901): kettle net under the headword kettle kettle net under the headword kiddle   MEANING   The phrase a pretty (or fine) kettle of fish means an awkward state of affairs.   ORIGIN   There is an obvious error in the Oxford English Dictionary (1st edition – 1901): under the […]

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